Research Press Release

How diverse is the microbial biosphere?

Nature Methods

August 10, 2009

PyroNoise, an algorithm that accurately determines microbial diversity in an ecological sample from high-throughput pyrosequencing data, is presented online in this week's Nature Methods.

During high-throughput pyrosequencing each base in a sequence is read as a flash of light and intensities of these light flashes are later converted to the four bases. It has been a valuable tool in assessing microbial diversity, but the challenge is to distinguish sequencing errors from true diversity. Sequences classified as comprising a new species may simply represent a known species with a few sequencing errors. This has led to an overestimation of microbial diversity and distorted phylogenetic trees constructed even when standard error correction methods ― such as removal of ambiguous reads ― were applied.

With PyroNoise, Christopher Quince and colleagues introduce an algorithmic solution for error correction. PyroNoise goes back to the primary data output ― the light intensities that represent each base ― and accurately calculates the correct sequence from these light intensities. This largely removes errors in the data and allows an accurate calculation of diversity within a sample.

DOI:10.1038/nmeth.1361 | Original article

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